Robertson Again Defends Ivory Coast's Gbagbo; CBN's Lane Asks, "What Evidence Is There Of Gbagbo's Human Rights Abuses?"
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Pat Robertson has, shall we say, a checkered record of involvement in Africa. In 2003, Robertson came to the defense of Liberian President Charles Taylor, claiming that then-President Bush was "undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels" by asking him to leave office after being indicted for war crimes by a United Nations-backed tribunal. Taylor even testified during his war-crimes trial that a Robertson-owned company was allowed to explore for gold in Liberia and that Robertson later offered to lobby the Bush administration to support Taylor's government. (A Robertson spokesman denied any quid pro quo.)
Now, Robertson and his Christian Broadcasting Network news operation have taken a position sympathetic to another African leader, again citing the leader's Christianity as a reason.
The January 13 of The 700 Club aired a segment on an election controversy in the Ivory Coast involving current president Laurent Gbagbo, who is refusing to leave office despite having, most observers concur, lost an election to rival Alassane Ouattara. Robertson kicked off the segment by complaining that as he read "the American press and the international press, I have not found not one word spoken in favor" of Gbagbo, adding: "And everybody says this man is an evil thug who needs to go. That's not true. He's a Christian, he's a nice person, and he's run a fairly clean operation in the Ivory Coast." This was followed by a report from CBN correspondent Gary Lane that clearly cast Gbagbo in a favorable light: Lane showed a "praise and worship service" inside the presidential palace where Gbagbo "listened intently to the pastor's message, his Bible at his side."
After Lane's report, Robertson speculated that the U.S. is "trying to cozy up to the French, I guess, and do their bidding" by "meddling in the affairs of the Ivory Coast." Robertson also claimed that the United Nations is "controlled so much by Muslim countries" -- Ouattara is Muslim -- and then added: "Would it have been nice if Germany, France, and England came to the United States into the Bush-Gore deal and said, 'We're sorry. We don't acknowledge the fact that those hanging chads were valid, and we think that Gore is the president. And if George Bush doesn't step down, we're going to put sanctions against America'?"
Such a fawning portrait of Gbagbo obscures the facts behind the election controversy.